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AIBS Public Policy Report

AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 15, July 18, 2022

  • AIBS Joins Scientific Organizations in Urging Congress to Pass Bipartisan Innovation Legislation
  • House Bill Would Bar U.S. Biomedical Agencies From Funding Lab Research in China
  • Trump ESA Rules Struck Down in Court
  • AIBS Joins Stakeholder Letter Urging Robust Funding for USDA Research
  • Public Comments Sought on Biden’s Forest Protection Plan
  • You’re Invited to Take a Survey on Nagoya Protocol and Genetic Data
  • Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest
  • Short Takes
    • Atlantic Ocean Countries Join Pact to Cooperate on Marine Science
    • New Chief Scientist Appointed at NOAA
  • From the Federal Register

The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks. Any interested party may self-subscribe to receive these free reports by email.

With proper attribution to AIBS, all material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. AIBS staff appreciates receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Jyotsna Pandey, at 202-628-1500 x 225.


AIBS Joins Scientific Organizations in Urging Congress to Pass Bipartisan Innovation Legislation

AIBS has joined 34 other science, engineering, and higher education organizations in sending a letter to congressional leaders urging them to finalize and pass a bipartisan agreement on the United States Innovation and Competition Act or USICA (S. 1260) and the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521) by the end of July.

The letter also encourages Congress to “make a down payment on American competitiveness by adding $10 billion in supplemental appropriations for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology as part of a final agreement.”  The organizations argue that “making this initial investment would jumpstart our nation’s science and innovation enterprise as we seek to reclaim our competitive advantage.”

“Our global competitors are not sitting idle,” the groups note.  “The need for this legislation is broadly recognized, and delay or failure should not be an option.  We believe sensible bipartisan compromises can be reached on many of the outstanding issues and that a final agreement coupled with supplemental funding would bolster U.S. competitiveness, address supply chain issues, and enhance U.S. security.”

Conference negotiations to reconcile USICA and COMPETES reached an impasse earlier this month when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) threatened to derail any potential bipartisan agreement if Democrats continued to pursue a separate partisan reconciliation package focused on climate and social spending.  Republicans later softened their stance by suggesting the House could either pass the Senate-passed USICA or both chambers could simply vote to enact a standalone measure to fund the semiconductor provisions of the bill.  

Democrats, however, continued to insist on a compromise on the innovation legislation that would also authorize billions for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.   Senator Joe Machin (D-WV) has since declared he “unequivocally” wouldn’t support a reconciliation package that includes climate and clean energy provisions, killing prospects for any major climate legislation this year.

The Biden Administration is pushing Congress to finalize the USICA-COMPETES package prior to the August recess, and has expressed willingness to support a slimmed-down version of the bill to ensure passage of $52 billion in funding for grants to spur domestic semiconductor manufacturing.


House Bill Would Bar U.S. Biomedical Agencies From Funding Lab Research in China

Scientists are expressing concerns about a proposal in Congress that would ban the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from funding research laboratories located in China, or any other country determined by the State Department to be a foreign adversary, including Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

The provision in question is part of the fiscal year (FY) 2023 appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, which was recently advanced by the House Appropriations Committee.  The bill currently awaits approval from the full House.

The proposal emerged as a result of suspicions among some lawmakers that the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China released the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic as well as concerns about other potentially “dangerous” experiments involving animals.  If enacted, this measure could block significant funding for international collaborative research projects.

Representative Chris Stewart (R–UT), who sponsored this measure, said that the ban “will ensure this research will not continue in uncontrolled environments.  Cutting American funding to our opposition’s research – particularly Chinese projects – should not be a partisan issue.”

According to Science Insider, some members of the scientific community are worried about the sweeping scope of the proposal and its potential impact on international collaborations.  “In theory it’s good to have oversight over biosafety and animal welfare, but in practice there may be better ways than blocking all NIH funding to foreign countries,” argued Eva Maciejewski, spokesperson for the Foundation for Biomedical Research. 


Trump ESA Rules Struck Down in Court

A federal judge has vacated controversial Trump-era rules under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that made it easier for regulators to delist species from the endangered species list and remove automatic protections for threatened species.

ESA was enacted in 1973 with the goal of preventing plants and animals from becoming extinct.  The law is credited with successfully saving the gray whale, the grizzly bear, and the bald eagle.

Three ESA rules finalized by the Trump Administration in 2019 no longer remain in effect after a federal judge in California tossed them out on July 5.  One of the rules changed how the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) add, remove, and reclassify endangered or threatened species and the criteria for designating “critical habitat,” which are areas crucial for species recovery.  The second rule eliminated USFWS’s former policy of automatically extending to threatened species the protections against “take” that the law affords to endangered species.  The third rule changed how USFWS and NMFS work with federal agencies to prevent proposed agency actions that could harm listed species or their critical habitat.

The Biden Administration had sought to keep these regulations temporarily in place while they worked to review and rewrite them.  The USFWS and NMFS told the US District Court for the Northern District of California that vacating the 2019 rules would lead to confusion among the public, other agencies, and stakeholders.  U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, however, ruled that leaving them in place “will cause equal or greater confusion, given the flaws in the drafting and promulgation of those regulations.”  

Conservation groups praised the decision.  Noah Greenwald, Endangered Species Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that with this ruling the USFWS and NMFS “can finally get on with the business of protecting and recovering imperiled species.”  The Department of the Interior said it is reviewing the decision.


AIBS Joins Stakeholder Letter Urging Robust Funding for USDA Research

Sixty-one organizations and institutions, including AIBS, representing stakeholders from across the food and agricultural research enterprise, have sent a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to provide increased funding for research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Last month, the House Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending bill that would provide $3.6 billion for food and agricultural research, extension, and education programs at USDA, a healthy funding increase compared to FY 2022.  The stakeholder letter highlights the House numbers and urges the Senate Appropriations Committee to make investments “to at least the levels that were put forward by the House.”

“Multiple studies have demonstrated that a strategic investment in our nation’s food and agricultural innovation, education, and extension will provide a significant return on that investment, providing both short- and long-term solutions,” the groups argued.

Read the letter.


Public Comments Sought on Biden’s Forest Protection Plan

The United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are seeking public input on the Biden Administration’s plan to protect the nation’s forests. 

The comments will inform the implementation of the Executive Order “Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies,” which requires the USFS and BLM to define and complete an inventory of old-growth and mature forests on federal lands; coordinate conservation and wildfire risk reduction activities; identify threats to mature and old-growth forests and develop policies to address them; formulate agency-specific reforestation goals by 2030; devise climate-informed reforestation plans; and develop recommendations for community-led local and regional economic development opportunities.

Specifically, input is requested on a series of questions to inform the development of a definition for “old-growth” and “mature” forests, including what the criteria should be for defining such forests; how a durable definition could be developed that also accommodates and reflects changes in forest composition and climate; and what forest characteristics, if any, should a definition exclude.

The agencies will accept written public comments until August 15, 2022.  In addition, an informational webinar for interested members of the public is scheduled for July 21, 2022.


You’re Invited to Take a Survey on Nagoya Protocol and Genetic Data

With support from the National Science Foundation and in partnership with 18 scientific societies, the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the USA Nagoya Protocol Action Group organized six virtual workshops between October and December of 2021.  The series engaged the global scientific community in discussions about the value of digital sequence information (DSI) across numerous scientific disciplines, how DSI is currently shared and used, and challenges that may emerge from explicitly including or excluding DSI under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and/or the Nagoya Protocol.

The workshop organizers want to hear from the international research community.  Please take the survey linked below to help us develop informative resources about international science policy related to the sharing of DSI for scientists, educators, and biodiversity collection managers.  The survey will remain open through July 22, 2022 and will take about 20-25 minutes to complete.  Aggregated survey information will be used to develop strategies and solutions to challenges posed by potential changes in international policy that would impact the sharing of DSI. 


Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest

Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest for a chance to win $250 and to have your photo appear on the cover of the journal BioScience.

The competition recognizes scientists who use imagery to communicate aspects of biological research to the public and policymakers.  Once again, this year's competition is sponsored by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in addition to the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).

“Art and science are inextricably linked to effective communication,” said Scott Glisson, Chief Executive Officer of AIBS.  “This contest provides a forum for expression, inspiration, and technical skill. The creativity involved is magnificent.”

The theme of the contest is “Faces of Biology.”  Photographs entered into the competition must depict a person, such as a scientist, technician, or student, engaging in biological research.  The depicted research may occur outside, in a lab, with a natural history collection, on a computer, in a classroom, or elsewhere.

The winning photo from the 2021 contest was featured on the cover of the April 2022 issue of BioScience.

Submissions must be received by 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 2022.  For more information or to enter the contest, visit our website.


Short Takes

  • The United States has joined the European Union, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Morocco, and South Africa in signing a declaration pledging to cooperate on marine research for the “environmental health and sustainable development of the Atlantic Ocean.”  The All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance Declaration will seek to identify new ways for signatories to work together and share data and ideas to advance research on a wide variety of topics, including climate, mapping, fisheries and aquaculture, marine pollution, and ocean literacy.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has named Sarah Kapnick, a climate expert at JPMorgan & Chase Co., as the agency’s Chief Scientist.  Kapnick previously worked at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.  She has a Ph.D. in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Princeton University.  “She brings technical expertise in climate prediction and modeling and real-world experience from the private and public sector that will be valuable as NOAA leverages our full suite of science capabilities to build a climate-ready nation,” stated NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad.  As NOAA’s senior scientist, Kapnick will be responsible for advancing the agency’s science and technology priorities and for upholding scientific integrity.

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from July 5 to 15, 2022. 




Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services


National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Office of Science and Technology Policy



The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity organization that advances the biological sciences for the benefit of science and society. AIBS works with like-minded organizations, funding agencies, and political entities to promote the use of science to inform decision-making. The organization does this by providing peer-reviewed or vetted information about the biology field and profession and by catalyzing action through building the capacity and the leadership of the community to address matters of common concern.

Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. Today, AIBS has more than 100 member organizations and has a Public Policy Office in Washington, DC. Its staff members work to achieve its mission by publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience, by providing scientific peer-review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients, and by collaborating with scientific organizations to advance public policy, education, and the public understanding of science.

Website: www.aibs.org.

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